Chocomania: Hershey’s = crap

Today we’re going to talk about a familiar brand of chocolate:  Hershey’s.  I will say this one up front: I am not a fan. I used to be but then about a year or two ago, I cut way back on my cheap chocolate consumption and started rewarding myself on occasion with good chocolate. At that point, it was like a blindfold had been removed from my eyes and I could see not just light, but also all the colors of the rainbow.

Hershey’s chocolate is what gives American chocolate a bad name. Cheap chocolate does not have to taste bad — as evidenced by Cadbury’s offerings — but Hershey’s does an excellent job of ruining what could be a good thing.

It took me a long time to figure out what is wrong with Hershey’s and the only way I can describe it is that their milk chocolate tastes like the milk is a little sour.  And their dark chocolate is utterly horrible — usually either too sweet or too oily or both.  If I had to choose between consuming Hershey’s dark chocolate and going without chocolate at all, I would go with the deprivation.

[I won't even deign to discuss their white so-called chocolate, because, in short, it is not chocolate and therefore not worth putting in my mouth.]

Hershey’s signature product is, of course, the Hershey’s Kiss.  Plain milk chocolate Kisses have that sour milk taste I just mentioned, but are also completely unsatisfying — leaving me wanting more even as I hate myself for partaking in the first place.

Actually, the same is true for pretty much all of the Kisses flavors — milk chocolate with almonds, milk with cherry, milk with caramel, dark chocolate, etc. — far too sweet and always leaving my sweet tooth unsatisfied.  As I’ve said here before, I can only assume that the Hershey’s company is putting something else into their secret recipe (crack?  meth?) that causes people to want their product more.

Also, I hate how stingy and secretive the Hershey’s company is.  We visited the company’s headquarters in Pennsylvania several years ago and I had a vision in my head of it being like visiting Willy Wonka’s factory.  You know, getting to see how things are made and getting LOTS of free samples.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We were given ONE bite-sized sample at the end of our fake tour.  That’s right, a FAKE tour.  We were put on an amusement park-like ride and shown tantalizing glimpses of what the process to make Hershey’s Kisses might look like, but it was not the real thing.  Proprietary information and all that.

I call bullshit.

When we were in England last year, we went to the Cadbury’s factory and saw the actual processes.  I haven’t heard of any competing companies stealing the magic recipe for Wispas and then running Cadbury’s into the ground, so obviously the tours aren’t a problem.

Furthermore, we were given loads of free candy — I think we ended up getting something like four or five free candy bars each. Heaven.  And you know what?  Generosity hasn’t brought Cadbury’s down either.

So Hershey’s?  You can suck it.  My choco-dollars will be spent elsewhere.

~ ~ ~

Luckily, today’s chocolate discussion is not all dreck and crap.

In a continuation of last week’s discussion on chocolate and caramel, I have a new one to tell you about.  Sue sent me a package of Sanders Dark Sea Salt Caramels.  Whoa.

Elegant was with me when I opened the package and here is an exact transcription of what she said, “Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…”  And I swear her eyes rolled back in her head in ecstasy for just a moment.

So what makes this candy just so very perfect?  First of all, the caramel is primo, absolutely top notch.  Then, the dark chocolate used to enrobe it is also high quality — not too sweet, not too bitter, and (as often seems to happen with American dark chocolate) not too oily.  Dusting the top of each candy are a few flecks of sea salt that enhance the overall flavor.  No exaggeration, I have a mouth full of drool just thinking about this.

It’s the salt that throws people for a loop.  Salt added to chocolate?  What’s that all about?  Next week we’re going to investigate this idea of sweet + salty a bit further.

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33 Responses to Chocomania: Hershey’s = crap

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh yeah, I’ve been a fan of salt caramels too!

    And Hershey’s dark chocolate tastes like wax to me.

  2. Mizmell says:

    I’m with you about Hershey. And-to add fuel to the fire-didn’t they just recently move their main operation overseas??

  3. Cathy says:

    We loved the Hershey’s fake tour because our son was only 3 and had a ball. I guess I wasn’t expecting anything other than kitsch from such a junky company. They delivered on the junk, and we had a great time, albeit, without imbibing much chocolate :)

  4. Jen's Pete says:

    To be fair, the Hershey’s fake tour is free, but the Cadbury’s one costs theme park prices to get in. Of course, Hershey has their own theme park right next to the fake factory, and that is a really fun park.

  5. Nina says:

    OMG, those caramels look like HEAVEN!!!

  6. alex says:

    I’ve never had chocolate with sea salt before. I can just imagine how wonderful they taste.

    And the one thing I’ll give Hershey’s is that their chocolate bars are perfect for mixing with graham crackers and marshmallows and roasted over a campfire. :)

  7. Moira says:

    Have you ever tried chocolate-covered potato chips??? You’d be surprised. It’s one of the great sweet/salty combinations.

  8. jenn says:

    Oh, my. Oh, MY. Those chocolate caramels look like my version of heaven. Have you tried the Haagen Dazs Sea Salted Caramel ice-cream?

  9. paperdiva says:

    I totally did not need to know that HD makes it in an ice cream.
    The only time I eat Hersheys is in a smore.
    And I am so glad the residents of Jenworld enjoyed the chocolates :)

  10. melissawest says:

    A huge shame about the “great American chocolate bar” but I totally agree. MY major complaint is the “mouth feel” or “texture.” It’s sort of gritty, isn’ t it? Not smooth at all. A massive disappointment.
    *Sigh* I love chocolate posts.

  11. Hershey’s and Nestle’s always taste like wax to me — I think maybe they put a lot of wax in to make the candies keep their shape.

  12. alison says:

    Those caramels look amazing! The most unusual combo that I’ve loved lately is the Lindt dark chocolate with chili peppers. Dee-lish!! Do you get Lindt down in the States? If not, I’ll add some to the list of stuff to bring down this summer.

  13. Skywalker says:

    I only eat Hersheys on forced family holidays and outings. Something about easily attainable chocolate will sate me for a short period of time. As for that salted choc….not bad. I do from time to time place M&Ms in my popcorn. That is a sweet and salty treat.

  14. Speaking of salty+sweet, I finally tried the bacon chocolate!

  15. daysgoby says:

    Hershey Kisses always seemed…powdery…to me. Not satisfying at all. Mmm, you just reminded me I have a box of those sea salt caramels stashed away - must go and find those….

  16. Mary says:

    Oh sweet Jeeeezus! Those sound incredible!
    I will sit here enviously drooling all over myself like a St. Bernard all day now! Great!

  17. My big grump with Hershey’s came when they were sold and the new board of directors closed the founder’s home for children and turned the property into condos. A very bad group of people.

    Ask me for the dirt on M&M Mars, it’s far worse and more personal.

  18. bdaiss says:

    Preaching to the choir. Haven’t eaten Hersheys in…years. Dreck. I’d rather go without. (And unfortunately I work with a bunch of chocolate morons who think it’s “good stuff”. *gag*)

    Salty & Sweet? OMG you bet. My friends here all thought I was nuts when we went to the movies and I added M&Ms to my popcorn. Now they’re addicts. The key is smuggling in the gigantic bag of M&Ms you get at the gorcery store for 1/10th the price the theater charges for a handful. : )

  19. There’s someone on Etsy that makes the salt caramels (sans chocolate) and I keep wanting to buy some. And I tried the salted hot chocolate at Starbucks over the winter (was a short run thing and had a special name, but can’t remember now) that was terrific.

    (And Hersheys has always smelled a bit like vomit to me).

  20. Clare says:

    I have to say I was disappointed by Hershey’s…But then I come from the land of Cadbury’s! I remembered the glory of mini eggs today…haven’t had them in a while!

  21. Fannie says:

    I’m not much on sweets, but these? I just ordered some. Can’t wait!

  22. Julie says:

    One word: Fran’s. I think she invented the salt/chocolate caramel. It’s been at least 6 years since I discovered this combo at Whole Foods (I live in Northern CA). Fran’s is based out of Seattle, Washington. She makes the most delicious CHOCOLATEY tasting treats. She also does smoked salt (it’s reddish) chocolate caramels.

    Why? I think only a woman would know. It’s tied to ovulation, that I know. I did chocolate and potato chips, once a month, for years, way before anyone dreamed up this concoction. Not chocolate coated potato chips either (but I would’ve been a rich woman if I had thought that one up).

    Other times of the month, I can do with them, or without them, but at “that time” of the month, I seek them out and eat them like they’re going out of business! (yes I’m currently on the the heavy list).

    Hershey’s is childhood memories for me, that’s why I still will allow myself 3 hershey kisses if I have no other chocolate handy. I think it’s girl scout smore’s, camping trips, etc. I’m sure the recipe was way different in the 70′s, before big corporate got a hold of them.

    anyone hear of Scharffenberger chocolate? Based out of Berkeley, CA? They had the most amazing tours of their brick building chocolate factory. I had hints of willie wonka in my head when I was on the tour. Truly historic, and oh so yummy of a tour. Damn fine chocolate. Until they got bought out. Yep, I think Hershey bought them, which made me sad. And mad. Cuz Scharffenberger of old is no more. I won’t even buy them, even if the recipe hasn’t changed. If Hershey owns them, then quality is goin down, I know that. They even closed the brick building in Berkeley, where it all started. Damn corporate chocolate in America!

  23. Raydenfyre says:

    Rock on! Hershey’s has to be one of the worst chocolates on the market…..just a notch above the generic dollar store brands that taste like dust. I dont even use their syrup for chocolate milk! Chocolate malt ovaltine all the way baby. Im all about the european made treats….the chocolate is so different..I hate calling hershey’s chocolate anymore!

  24. Sarah says:

    I LOVE ENGLISH CADBURY!!!! The chocolate carmel bars! When my sister lived in England she would bring home tons of Cadbury and we’d split it up and then hide our stashes…we’re so bad! What I don’t get is that the Cadbury made here in the US is done by Hersheys! Couldn’t they get some lessons?!!!? Ok, I need to go find something chocolatey now!

  25. Mmmm…..I love sea salt choco-caramels! This is quite the choice assignment you’ve given yourself, dear!

  26. momofTNT says:

    Chocolate covered pretzels are good for the chocolate & salt combo. Totally agree with all of your Hershey’s comments.

  27. Ree says:

    Chocolate covered pretzels. Sweet and Salty. I have OD’d on them many times…


  28. alex says:

    Oooh, chocolate-covered potato chips are the best. We usually get Ballriech’s brand because it’s a local company. Mmmm. Now I want some!

  29. A couple years ago I reada book about about the Hershey’s and Mars chocolate companies and you nailed it-Hershey’s chocolate tastes a little sour because their process makes it so.

    And I agree with Joie about the Hershey’s children’s home. Mr. Hershey may not have come up with a stellar chocolate recipe, but, if I am to believe what I’ve read, he was a man with a big heart.

  30. I love sweet & salty together!


  31. Patience says:

    I never noticed a sour milk taste in Hershey’s chocolate, but their candy is very boring and there is no excuse for boring chocolate. I have been spoiled by the Green & Black’s chocolate/candied ginger bars. Love the chocolate/ginger combination.

  32. Kirstin says:

    For the past year or so, I’ve been keeping a dark chocolate candy bar in my refrigerator so I can have a piece at night - I try to make it last as long as possible.

    In my opinion, there’s nothing in this world as good as a great dark chocolate covered pretzel. That semi-sweet taste mixed with the saltiness is pure heaven!

  33. Jaina says:

    Dark sea salt chocolate? Sounds divine! Sea salt sprinkled on chocolate is one of the best things ever, a real treat for the taste buds. :) I’m loving this chocolate review series :)